Freshman guard Houston Mallette tips a rebound in an effort to keep the Waves possession of the ball during the WCC home opener Jan 10. The Waves and Toreros battled beneath the net to keep the ball in-bounds and in-play. Photo by Lucian Himes
After losing their WCC opener Jan. 8 against Gonzaga (83-117), Pepperdine’s Men’s Basketball fought for a win against the University of San Diego’s Toreros in their home opener Jan 10. By the last buzzer, the Waves were unable to get ahead of the Toreros, with a final score of 62-72.
The Waves went into the game with a 6-10 record for 2021-22, a 0-1 WCC record, and a 6-2 at-home record. The Toreros also entered play with a 0-1 WCC record, a 1-4 away record and a 7-7 record for 2021-22. Prior to Monday’s game, Pepperdine won five consecutive meetings against USD. Their most recent meeting in February left the Waves with a 90-54 win.
“We just had to wake up,” Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We just didn’t have that edge. We didn’t play with the type of energy that we should have played with. We recognize it but we got down, couldn’t finish.”
The game started slow for Pepperdine, with the Waves trailing 10-3. Junior forward Jan Zidek made a 3-pointer from the right side of the net and freshman center Carson Basham scored despite a foul being committed against him. Basham secured his penalty shot, brining the score up to 10-6.
USD distanced themselves from the Waves through steals, layups and 3-pointers with an 11-point lead at 17-6. Graduate student forward Keith Fisher III managed get the rebound from freshman forward Maxwell Lewis, and Basham netted a 3-pointer, bridging the gap to 17-11. With an assist from redshirt senior guard Jade’ Smith, Basham secured two more points with a layup and brought the score to 17-13.
Lewis and Fisher got one more shot in each, however, USD secured five more points before Fisher sank two foul shots, bringing the score to 19-22. Lewis would go on to steal the ball, sending it Smith to who scored in a fast back, tightening the gap to merely a point at 22-21.
Before the Waves could overtake the Toreros, USD scored two three-pointers, lay-ups and foul shots. On the Waves side, Smith shot from the key, Fisher made two foul shots, and sophomore forward Kendall Munson ended the first-half with a lay-up. The Waves went into halftime trailing seven points with a score of 34-27.
When the buzzer signaled the beginning of the second half, the Waves attacked with new energy, throwing themselves at the ball and across the court in an effort to catch up to the Toreros.
The Toreros scored early, but within the first four minutes, freshman guard Houston Mallette stole the ball, passing it to Smith who sank a mid-range shot. Smith would go on to score five more points in the 12-2 run.
The Waves fought hard for the ball. Mallette — attempting to keep the ball in-bounds and in-play — made a running leap, hitting the ball back and landing across the laps of the USD coaches on the bench.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Fisher shot a 3-pointer that sailed into the net, giving the Waves their first lead of the game at 39-38.
USD’s Terrell Brown-Soares made a mid-range shot. The stadium held its breath. Fisher lined up for another 3-pointer as his teammates chanted “another one.” Fisher shoots.
He scores. The Waves are up again 42-40.
The Toreros scored another eight points before Zidek sank two foul shots resulting in a 48-44 score. The Toreros were back in the lead with a little more than ten minutes on the clock.
USD scores again, and Smith made repeated attempts at the hoop. The score stood at 50-47. A USD 3-pointer with less than eight minutes left and several foul shots left the Waves 10 points behind.
Despite several fake-out attempts, the Waves couldn’t score and were stuck with a 14 point gap, 60-46, partly due to USD being awarded foul shots. With less than six minutes left, Mitchell made one of his two allotted foul shots, bringing the score to 60-47. Soon after, USD’s Yavuz Gultekin brought the score to 62-47, this fifteen-point gap would be the Torero’s widest lead of the night.
Though the Waves led a 12-10 run against the Toreros, they couldn’t close the gap, sitting at a minimum of eight points behind the competition. With one minute left of game-play, the Toreros’ strategy shifted from scoring to letting the timer run itself out with the Waves at a 13 point deficit.
Mallette managed to score a three-pointer with one second left, but the gap was too great, bringing the final score to 72-62.
“We’ve challenged our team to just do what we’re capable of doing,” Romar said. “And if we do that, I think we’ll be fine. But we have to be able to do we have to be able to control the things that we can control out on the basketball court.”
The Waves will play St. Mary’s at home Jan. 13.
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